Needlepoint Christmas Stocking Tutorial

November 18, 2017

Carter's needlepoint Christmas stocking is finished and I really enjoyed making it. Knitting, you have a rival.

My stocking kit, The Hugging Penguins by Dimensions, arrived fully stocked with lovely 100% wool yarn, cotton floss, needle, color printed canvas, and instructions including stitch chart and color chart. I was amazed at the quality, the organization of the materials, and the price (unbelievably less than $25!). I would definitely use a Dimensions kit again and I'm happy to recommend it to you. But now that the stitching is done, it needs to be turned into a stocking. Blocking and finishing a stocking does not have to be done by an expert seamstress (I'm definitely not); a confident seamstress will do just fine. Below is a step by step tutorial on how I block and finish a needlepoint canvas into a stocking. 

But I may as well start at the beginning. Everyone in our family has a needlepoint stocking, and of course our newest member needed one too! Carter's parents ordered this kit from Amazon. The first thing I did was graph Carter's name out on paper using this free alphabet chart. After finding the center of both the name and the stocking, I worked out from there using the counted stitch technique. I gave the project it's own basket. I found it easiest to work one color at a time using the basketweave stitch because I find it distorts the canvas the least. But as careful as I am and as even a tension I try to maintain, my finished canvas has some bias distortion and is rumpled. Perhaps a frame would avoid this but I don't like to use them. Anyway, all that will come out in the next step. 

The canvas above is completely covered in the basketweave stitch, but the stitching is not complete. The final top-stitching will be done after it has been blocked and dried. To block the canvas, submerge completely in lukewarm water until it becomes fully wet. Gently squeeze out excess water, lay flat on a terry towel and roll into a jellyroll to remove even more water. On a blocking board and armed with T-pins or tacks, stretch and pin the wet canvas to shape. Tug and pull and it will eventually succumb! Let dry in a warm shady spot; it may take a few days.

Now that it's dry you can add a few decorative stitches on top of the finished canvas. Outline stitches and French knots help define the intricate details such as the faces and snowflakes, and adding beads and trinkets make it uniquely yours. Above is the unembellished piece. Below, it's dry now and the top stitching has been added.

Now for the sewing up. You'll need bias piping tape; either make your own or purchase ready made as I have. Also, you'll need 100% cotton velveteen for backing (or sturdy wool felt or upholstery fabric) and 100% cotton fabric for lining. The kit comes with felt for the backing, but I prefer velveteen, also, I prefer to line my stocking. Fabric that is suitable for quilting is perfect for lining. Do not wash them. Cut the canvas to within 1/4" of the stitching. I didn't take a picture of this step but above you can see a little corner of what the trimmed canvas looks like.

With a zipper foot, machine baste the piping to the right side of your stocking, down one side, around the toe, and up the other side. Do not add the piping to the top quite yet. Stitch as closely as you can to the piping stitching going one stitch in to the needlepoint itself.

With sharp scissors, snip the curves every 1/2" up to, but no into, the stitching.

Cut the velveteen backing to shape leaving a generous 1/2" seam allowance all around to give you some wiggle room when stitching. With right sides facing, carefully pin all around.  Slowly machine stitch both sides and toe using the same stitch line as the piping, leaving top open. Trim and cut curves of backing. (Please don't look at the messy back of my needlepoint! In less than an hour it will never see the light of day again!)

Turn right side out and it will look like this.

Cut the lining, see above, making it 1/8" smaller all around as this will help it to fit inside the stocking a little better, however, do leave a few inches at the top for a cuff to fold under. With right sides facing, machine stitch lining all around leaving top open.  And this is where my pictures get sparse. I guess I got carried away with the task at hand and forgot my camera! But from now on you are on the home stretch. Next, you'll pin the piping to the  top of the stocking, all around, neatly overlapping at the back. Machine stitch in place.  Make a loop or folded tab for hanging. This goes on the "heel" side. Machine stitch in place. Fold down the lining cuff, slip lining fully down into stocking.  Carefully hand baste the folded lining edge to the top piping then slowly machine stitch this in place. Remove basting stitches. It is finished!

Using fabric glue I affixed some plastic snowflakes and a fuzzy pompom. Hugging Penguins is in the can!

The fabric glue is not completely dry in this picture, but it will be invisible when fully dry.

The link for Hugging Penguins kit from Dimensions.
A sweet little stocking for my sweet baby grandson.

Edited in 2019: The darling penguin stocking is still available here! I did a search for reasonably priced needlepoint kits, and while the pickins' are slim, I did find two more I love. This one is so dear with a bird perched on Santa's cuff. Aww, I just love him. Here's a handsome nutcracker, although a bit more expensive, he's very nice. It uses embroidery floss, not yarn and is quite large.  There are gorgeous hand painted canvases available but they are more expensive because they are painstakingly hand painted and not machine printed. I know they are worth it, but if you are on a budget, these kits are very beautiful.

For a tutorial on how to hand finish a needlepoint Christmas ornament,
please visit this post.

To make a comment, please click here. 


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  1. What a wonderful tutorial, Kristen! I've often thought of trying needle point but thought it too intricate for me. I now think it is absolutely doable!

    1. Oh, it's easy and very relaxing! I hope you do try it!

  2. Thank you Kristen for the most informative tutorial on finishing the stocking. I just had to share it with my readers.

    1. Thank you so much for you very kind words on your Facebook page. I'm very flattered!!!!!

  3. You sure did bring life to an already cute design. Your details made it extra special. What a blessed and talented hand-crafter you are. Thanks for sharing. I love Your emails. Dasha

  4. It is beautiful!!!!!


  5. Wow. The cutest penguins ever. And so quick! When do you sleep, Kristin??
    (I think I already asked you this question but it still goes.) Chloe

    1. Ha! You should see us this morning, running around like crazy trying to get things done before our little guest arrives in an hour! He is spending two nights with us while his parents have a wee vacation. Looking forward to it, but my, he will poop me out.

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  7. Beautiful stocking! Thanks for the tutorial! Merry Christmas!

  8. It’s so beautiful. I love the bunny too

  9. This is incredibly helpful as I am trying to finish a cross stitch stocking in time for Christmas. However, I'm really struggling to understand the last few steps (those lacking photos). How was the hanging piece 'machine stitched' onto your stocking and how did you machine stitch the lining onto the stocking? I understand the hand basting but am struggling to see how the stitches wouldn't appear on the front of the work at this point. Beautiful stocking!

    1. I hope you come back here for your answer. I cannot send you an email as it came to me from an unknown address.

      So let me see if I can help.

      The tab is machine stitched to the stocking on the same stitch line you used when you stitched on the piping. The tab will be placed in the inside of course but will be stitched on the outside. Now you want to hand baste the lining carefully to the stocking. The machine stitching for this will also go right at the stitch line of the piping and again you will be stitching on the front side, but you still won’t see it because the stitches will land right in the wee valley between the piping and the needlepoint.

      Ugh. It’s the best explanation I can do. I hope it helps!


    2. I also would like to add that needlepoint is quite a bit stiffer than cross stitch. Your cross stitch may feel like it needs more body. I suggest you iron on some Pellon fabric interfacing/stabilizer to the back. You might want to check a site that is more familiar with cross stitch, but that is my first thought.

  10. I also wondered about machine stitching the lining. That it may show on the fron . With your direction, it seems clearer. Is there a YouTube video of this?

  11. I also wondered about machine stitching the lining. That it may show on the fron . With your direction, it seems clearer. Is there a YouTube video of this?

  12. Thank you for sharing your lovely work. I was trying to decide whether to just spritz my work to get it wet or soak it. Hmmm. As a safety aside: I would not have put on parts that can be removed and placed in baby's mouth as children are wont to do.


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